You don’t have to look very far to find a dispute over homosexuality these days. Should gay marriage be legal? What about openly gay people serving in the military? And how does marriage inequality affect the kids of same-sex parents?
While these heated debates continue to rage among Homo sapiens, the animal kingdom appears unperturbed when it comes to homosexuality.
This past June MNN told you about Z and Vielpunkt, the gay penguins that tenderly hatched and raised an abandoned chick. More recently, we told you about how new research has documented the prevalence of homosexuality in over 450 vertebrate species, and how in some cases it’s actually the norm. Recent studies have even suggested that homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom is a nearly universal phenomenon and may even be a necessary biological adaptation for the survival of the species.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that London's Independent newspaper is reporting about another set of feathered friends who are unruffled by same-sex unions: a pair of female royal albatrosses at a New Zealand breeding colony that have successfully incubated a chick.
Wildlife experts and rangers at the Taiaroa Head Royal Albatross Centre were thrilled, if not a bit surprised, when the two females set up a nest together. They’re one of only three such instances that the colony has recorded in more than 70 years, and they’re the first to successfully hatch a chick. According to the Independent:
Sam Inder, the manager of the centre, said: "It's an unusual situation because we've had a triangle with one male and two females for the past couple of years, and obviously that hasn't been terribly conducive to getting on with a breeding programme. This year the male left the trio, but obviously not before he had mated with one of the females."